Attitudes could be changing. You might have seen, for example, a neighbor peeling from an SUV bumper a "W '04" sticker and wearing an expression suggesting he was trying to scrape something from the sole of his shoe.
Similarly, Seattle Seahawks partisans seem to be of the belief that they can scrape away the residue of the past and embrace a better future, one that might actually lead to a Super Bowl appearance. A game plan that hornswoggles the St. Louis Rams, like that of Sunday, Nov. 13, will do that for followers of the now 7-2 Hawks. Seattle, but for a ball kicked a few inches too far left in Washington, D.C., Oct. 2, would be 8-1 and the fave to play a possibly undefeated Indianapolis club Feb. 5 in Detroit.
Maybe. We recall, however, that "should've, could've, would've" have been haunting references to this franchise for three decades. The early-season 8-2 1999 Hawks, for example, wound up 9-7 and lost their playoff game.
After the 31-16 win against the Rams, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren observed: "We had Shaun Alexander on our side, and that helps a lot." Alexander is the first National Football League player to score at least 15 touchdowns in five consecutive seasons. Holmy also noted that the team has been without its best receiver, Darrell Jackson, most of the year.
Against St. Louis, the best-in-league Hawk offense didn't even hit the "on" button until Alexander the Great (let's just give him the damned league MVP award right now along with half of owner Paul Allen's assets in a new contract) rumbled for 21 yards with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. Matt Hasselbeck immediately found D.J. Hackett for 47, and Alexander (three touchdowns, 165 yards) wandered the final six yards for the score. Seattle got a gimme field goal to end the half leading 10-3. But St. Loo missed an easy touchdown when a long Marc Bulger pass dropped unseen near the goal line. The visitors (now 4-5 and looking it) also blew an easy second-quarter three with a peewee-league-like fake field goal.
The Rams grabbed a carom from a catchable Hasselbeck pass on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter, but had to settle for another field goal. The next possession, the Hawks parlayed expert play-calling and a 37-yard Alexander gallop: 17-6. With 4:59 left in the third, Hasselbeck hit Hackett again, this time for a score. At 24-6, a playoff spot suddenly was visible through the Qwest Field drizzle.
If the Hawks win two of the next three, they're 9-3 with four to play. Given that two of those are against the pain-but-no-gain San Francisco 49ers, 9-3 seems a cinch, as does 11-5 or better by season's end.
Then again, Cheney-Bush could suddenly do something unexpected to make the approval rating soar to, say, 38 percent. To that end, I'm lobbying for pulling the Alito nomination and naming Alan Dershowitz. If that happens, anything's possible, and the Hawks could finish 7-9. No fun, sure, but in the NFC's tame, tame West Division, the Seahawks probably would still make the playoffs.